“Chalking” on Exterior Brick / Damp Basement / Fixing a Window Pane

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm


The bricks on my house have streaks from the aluminum siding’s finish washing down on it. Can they be removed?


I guess you’ve figured out by now that the salesman years ago that said, “Never paint your house again, aluminum side it” may have been telling a little fib.

Some aluminum siding has its own cleaning process known as “chalking”. That’s where every time it rains the paint pigments wash down (sort of a self-cleaning process). Eventually, you’re going to have to replace the paint and also clean where the old chalking went to, the brick wall.

You don’t have to replace the siding because it can be painted. If the surface is properly prepped, the paint will bond and last for many years.

Now for cleaning the chalking off the brick walls; try a Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) solution or a diluted muriatic acid wash in an inconspicuous area first. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, protective clothes and goggles. If that doesn’t work, check the yellow pages under Building Cleaning-Exterior. Companies can spray on a commercial cleaner and then power wash the brick using water under pressure.

A friend of mine used a company called All-Brite Exterior Cleaning Company and was very impressed with the results. You can reach them by calling 586-268-0240.


When I go into my basement it feels so humid I feel like I’m going into a cave. My basement doesn’t appear to leak, so what can I do?


Taking several necessary and moderately inexpensive measures can help to reduce the basement humidity level. Begin by sloping the terrain away from the house four to six feet, with a one-inch per foot slope. Shrubbery that touches foundation walls should be cut back to provide air circulation and the sun can dry the perimeter walls.

Basement pipes should be insulated with pipe wrap. If there is a basement bathroom, install an exhaust fan that vents to the exterior.

Now, if you have and are using a dehumidifier already, possibly your existing dehumidifier is too small for your basement and a second unit is needed on the opposite end. Keep the basement windows closed except on hot, dry days. If you have air conditioning, use it, because air conditioning dehumidifies the air.

Finally, an inexpensive way to dehumidify a small area is to install “Damp Rid”. They are inexpensive, moisture-collecting buckets from what use to be the Vapor Products Company and is now a division of W.M. Barr, which contain refillable calcium chloride absorbers. You’ll find them at home and hardware stores.


I have an old rental house that I rent to tenants. One problem I am having is when I try to replace a cracked or broken windowpane, trying to remove the glass out of the sash without getting pieces of glass all over everything and without cutting myself is almost impossible. Do you have any safe suggestions?


One safe way is to cut two pieces of paper the same size as the broken pane, then coat the sheets with rubber cement and apply them to each side of the glass. You can now break out the remaining glass using a hammer and not worry about broken shards of glass getting everywhere. An even easier way is to use contact paper on both sides of the glass you are replacing.

Now, if you’ve ever tried to remove old, window putty, you know it’s not fun. But a couple of tips to “soften” the job are to use either muriatic acid, lacquer thinner or paint remover. Using a lettering brush, paint over the old putty with any one of those and it will soften the putty but it will also remove paint from the sash if you’re not careful. Another technique would be to use a hot soldering iron with the tip wrapped in aluminum foil to keep it clean.

I guess what I’m saying is replacing glass doesn’t have to be a ‘pain’.

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